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MMA inspires Del Oro wrestling

Eagles use UFC-like tactics to bring excitement to dual matches
By: Justin A. Lawson Journal Sports Writer
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LOOMIS – It isn’t quite Michael Buffer at Madison Square Garden but for high school wrestling Del Oro has electrified the way once stale dual matches are presented. The Eagles borrowed a page from mixed-martial arts’ handbook Wednesday night in a dual match against Woodcreek, which it won 54-15. The night began with a bevy of intro videos, wrestler selected “ring music,” and each match introduced by an announcer combined with some features that have long been in place at Del Oro like a spotlight on the mat. “I think it’s pretty cool,” said senior wrestler Austin Branum. “It makes it funner for people watching too. It’s pretty fun to run out to your song and it gets you more pumped up. It’s more of a kind of exciting experience for everybody.” Del Oro teamed up with Woodcreek to ensure that both teams received similar introductions. The opening match was a pair of heavyweights, the Eagles’ Sal Meneses and Woodcreek’s Dominic Balmer, who received an introduction as if they were fighting for the heavyweight championship of the world. “It’s different from other schools where you come out, you walk out, you warm up,” Balmer said. “It brings up the intensity level. It makes you feel like you’re wrestling first or second place in a tournament.” Each school exploded into the gym with its own theme music and videos to set the atmosphere. Woodcreek opted for an Adidas commercial featuring former Olympic gold medal wrestler Henry Cejudo. Del Oro used the opportunity to run a highlight reel of the varsity wrestlers, who are on pace to keep the tradition of the Del Oro wrestling alive and compete for their fifth straight Sierra Foothill League title. Eagles’ wrestlers got to choose their own intro music with choices ranging from Latin themed to Star Wars and Jay-Z. Wednesday was just the first of what Del Oro hopes will be a long-running tradition. The Eagles host two more dual meets with Nevada Union coming Jan. 11 and Granite Bay on Jan. 25, which could determine the league championship. “I think people will want to come and see it now,” Del Oro co-coach Clint Madden said. “There was a lot people and we don’t even go to school right now. The student body is still on vacation. “We’re going to keep doing it. I think we can just continually get better. We have to build all of those videos and intros and everything so now that we have those built we can start improving on it and just get better and better.” Del Oro charged through Woodcreek with a combination of eight pins and technical falls to grab a 54-15 victory in its first dual meet of the season. Branum, who is Del Oro’s top returning wrestler, had three near falls in the first period and picked up another near fall in the second to earn the technical fall in a 160-pound match with Brandon Ponti. The bout of the night was the Eagles’ Patrick Neu against Kyle Norris in a 152-pound bout. Norris controlled the match through nearly three periods before Neu threw him down and scored a near takedown to go into overtime. Norris scored on a two-leg takedown in the extra period to earn one of Woodcreek’s three victories.